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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered Wal-Mart Stores Inc to pay $188 million to employees who had sued the retailer for failing to compensate them for rest breaks and all hours worked.

Wal-Mart said on Tuesday that it might appeal the decision, which upheld lower court rulings, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Monday's ruling on the class-action lawsuit will reduce Wal-Mart's earnings for the quarter ending on Jan. 31 by 6 cents a share, the company said in a securities filing. That amounts to roughly 4 percent of its profit forecast of $1.46 to $1.56 for the period.

Wal-Mart shares were up 0.5 percent at $84.39 in midday New York Stock Exchange trading.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld a 2007 lower court ruling in favor of the workers, who said Wal-Mart failed to pay them for all hours worked and prevented them from taking full meal and rest breaks.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said the company did not believe the claims should be grouped together in a class-action suit. "Walmart has had strong policies in place to make sure all associates receive their appropriate pay and break periods," she said.

Comment: Well obviously these policies are being ignored! Walmart, being one of the stingiest corporations will do everything possible to squeeze every dollar it can from both its employers and suppliers. It pays the lowest wages possible, limits employees hours to avoid paying benefits, then has the audacity to coach their staff on how to obtain federal benefits so that it does not have to pay a living wage.

The decision, which affects about 187,000 Wal-Mart employees who worked in Pennsylvania between 1998 and 2006, marks the second unfavorable ruling in a week for the retailer, the largest private employer in the United States.

On Dec. 9, a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge found Wal-Mart had threatened employees trying to organize workers at two stores in California.

That ruling was seen as a victory for workers' rights groups who have been challenging the retailer to boost wages and benefits.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said the company did not agree with some of the judge's decisions in that case and was evaluating its next steps.

Source: Reuters